E-Mail Forum
  Richmond Election News and Comments
September 25, 2010

Copied below is digest of comments received in response to recent E-FORUM posts regarding the Richmond election, including the following:


First, a response from Nat Bates to a report from my “opinionated stronger” in Youth Show Their Interest, Influence in Richmond Politics, September 21, 2010, who wrote, “Nat once again falsely claimed to have supported and funded the RYSE Center. Of course those of us who are involved at RYSE know it’s a lie, but from Nat's mouth what do you expect!”

Nat responded:

Tom, I respect your right to editorialize your own E-Forum. However, for you to use a so called  opinionated  stringer who deliberately lie about my support of RYSE is outrageous. You know very well the council voted unanimously to co- fund and sponsor the RYSE program with the county and for you to allow a statement no matter who it comes from  is simply not true. I do expect a retraction to this lie and if we are going to work together in the future, you have to be more honest in your E-Forum. While this election is important to a number of people, I hope in your desire in getting Gayle reelected, you do not destroy our future two years of working together.   Please share my comments with your readers. Nat

My fact checker indicates that Nat is correct. The City of Richmond has provided tens of thousands of dollars in support of activities and programs at the RYSE Center, and Nat consistently voted for these contracts.

While we are on Nat, I received the cartoon below in response to Nat’s quote in the article New York Times - Race for Richmond Mayor Focuses on Jobs, Casino and Class, September 10, 2010, “’The police are friendly with me. Who are they going to ticket?’ Mr. Bates said as he drove briefly down the wrong direction of a one-way street.’”


Other comments to E-FORUMs:


  • Always enjoyed your E-Forums and value your opinion even when I don't agree with it.  But I can't stand the loopy, one-sided diatribe by others that you included below and for the other N&E Candidates E-Forum.  If you plan to keep on doing it either balance it with a counterpoint or please unsubscribe me.
  • I have to say that at first when I spoke with him [Ziesenhenne] (not at this event) I thought it seemed disingenuous, but the more I thought about it, the more I understood his point.  If he takes a position as the other mayoral candidates have done, people who feel strongly about the casino won't feel there's any point to voting on the issue itself, but will vote for a mayoral candidate who shares their view.  Choosing a mayor should encompass consideration of all the issues, not just where he or she stands on the casino.  For him to voice his personal view opens the door for it being said that's what he'll pursue as mayor.  (It's a lot easier for the media to label people "for" or "against" something rather than, for example, try to distill a remark like "it's really not that simple and there are valid and complex concerns on both sides that need to be heard, but in the end I personally would choose [x/y], but if the voters choose differently I will diligently pursue their choice."  [I don't know why ANYONE runs for office myself--such a no-win situation even if one DOES win??!] What I DO know: I wouldn't vote for a candidate who states that no matter what the voters decide, he or she will pursue his personal choice on the matter.  That's not representing anyone but themselves.  (unless it's a constitutional issue and they're protecting the minority from the tyranny of the majority--see, nothing is ever so simple as the partisans make it look!)


  • I don't think anyone would say they didn't care what the voters decide on an issue, that they would make their own personal choice.  They wouldn't be elected! But I still think, to make an informed choice, I do need to know how a candidate feels on issues that are important to me - if he [Ziesenhenne] had even said what you said about it not being that simple, I could accept that.  He just refuses to say anything about it - and that's what bothers me. I would never vote for or against a candidate based solely on one issue, just as I don't expect any candidate to do everything I think they should.  There is no clone of myself running around out there that believes everything exactly the way I do.  I just try to find someone who feels the same on most of the issues that matter most to me.
  • Yes, Tom, I too am personally not interested in Andres Soto’s opinions on the race. He is not simply opinionated, but is a campaign worker for Gayle McLaughlin.  His whole approach to Richmond politics is “divide and conquer,” not working together in coalitions to solve the intractable problems that the city (and state and nation, for that matter) is facing. I read your defense of a “blogger’s” right to publish opinion, not to hold to any sort of journalistic ethics or balanced perspective, but this is really enough. It is full of ad hominem attacks and vitriol, two of Soto’s most consistent tactics for advancing his agenda. I am sorry that you see him as a champion of “The People,” because he is known throughout the area as one who attacks individuals, not only on the basis of belief, but based on their religion and race. We do not need any more divisions in the City, we need collaboration.


  • Once again, thank you so much for parsing out Richmond politics for me. You are a good reporter -- pretty factually based, and you identify your own biases fairly. You are doing Richmond a service with your e-mails.
  • Tom:  I know how you fell.  I feel the same way about the ACLU and the Sierra Club.


  • Tom, Very nice. A wonderful little expose' for the uninitiated.
  • Tom, Good Morning and Thank you.
  • You should add this comment to your Forum: I'm voting for John Z, not because I am beholden for ANYTHING to Chevron but because he is the only  former or current Council Member to have done anything to improve my personal life.  When he was a Council Member years ago, I called him, at the suggestion of some of my neighbors, to ask for help in getting rid of some poison oak just outside our property fence which is Richmond City Property and he did it in a timely manner even though it wasn't easy.  He got a guy in contamination clothing over here to dig it out with a backhoe and dispose of it.  It was a BIG bush of poison oak, not a small one! I am VERY grateful for that and now garden outside my fence and beautify the city for FREE in return. Thanks John Z!


  • Thanks Tom! That is extremely interesting. It’s clear that something needs to be done to limit the influence large corporations have on our political process. Its not clear to me what needs to be done, whether it needs to be done on a national level, or on a local level. But we can't have a real democracy if large corporations are able to use their gigantic financial advantage over us little guys, to brainwash the public into voting for "bought and paid for" candidates.
  • Tom – Excellent summary.  Maybe local small businesses would be inclined to start a more representative non-Chevron chamber or some other/better alternative.  We as small businesses are missing out on benefits a chamber-like organization provides.  We miss making connections with our fellow small business owners and the sense of purposeful community that the Richmond Chamber co-opted for its own benefit/purpose. 


  • Well said keep up the good work
  • Unlike the subscriber who took issue with your policy on publishing some email responses and generally not naming the authors, I think you are right to keep doing what you're doing the way you're doing it. This is your forum. You pay for the server use. You set the policy. If readers want to state their opinions publicly, they know they can write to the paper, write in to their neighborhood Yahoo group or listserv, or attend city council and neighborhood council meetings. It's not your responsibility to make sure they are heard on this forum. I disagree with the point of view that "transparency will build readership." You offer Richmond residents a place to grumble and be heard without fear, which is a very good thing. I also appreciate your careful culling of comments. If you printed more subscriber comments, I might well unsubscribe from E-Forum. I subscribed to hear from you, not from them. Thanks again for your work on behalf of this city.


  • I think what you do is just fine. 
  • Mr. Z is a pig in a poke. I can't think of any other race ever - from micro-local to presidential - in which the candidate did not express his opinion on key issues in the course of the campaign. I find his silence bizarre.


  • Sorry, John Z. hasn’t been silent.  He’s just not committing on the casino, which I find pragmatic.  Pigs in pokes are relative; there are a lot of progressives who are very unhappy with Obama right now, whereas most other folks think he’s been doing a pretty good job.
  • He  [Ziesenhenne] could also be like me and not have a strong opinion one way or the other...


  • I wonder what you're thinking as you read the N&E posts? I think you once used the words "blow by blow"? Thanks for abiding by our request to keep names out of the comments you share externally. Although it wouldn't be hard to figure out who said what, it's important to our sense of community that the listserve remains private. And I completely agree that the E-Forum is yours to operate as you please.
  • Your E-FORUM is indeed not journalism, and I guess, if you say so, not a blog.  It is basically a compilation of emails you have sent to people telling them how you feel and sometimes quoting others and sending links of interest.  Do I see everything you say as "factual?"  As much as I do anything else that I read.  What I do believe is that everything that you say is what you believe.  It's rare in today's political climate for someone to be that transparent, and as a voter, I appreciate it.  Do I agree with everything you say?  No.  But I am able to see how you stand on the issues and decide whether I feel that a vote for you would better fit my needs than those for another candidate.  When one of those candidates refuses to state their views, I am unable to make a comparison.


  • Thank you for continuing to write.
  • I still think it would be nice to know how he  [Ziesenhenne] feels - simply because it would tell us more about how he feels about different issues.  That would be like someone running for president and saying they don't want to say where they stand on, oh, let's say gun rights, because he wants to leave it up to the people.


  • I second that..  I don't need another politician who is hiding their convictions behind rhetoric.  I'm all for transparency! I still think it would be nice to know how he [Ziesenhenne] feels - simply because it would tell us more about how he feels about different issues.  That would be like someone running for president and saying they don't want to say where they stand on, oh, let's say gun rights, because he wants to leave it up to the people. Knowing how he feels might tell us more about how he follows the will of the people, anyway - if he states one position, and the other wins, and he followed what the voters asked for, that would say a lot.
  • By deferring to the voters he [Ziesenhenne] effectively eliminates the Pt. Molate casino as a litmus test on his candidacy.  I'm sure that pisses the anti-casino crowd off but it's a clever move and frankly it's what a democracy is supposed to be.  Just wait until after November to see how many other councilmembers obey the vote of the people, vs. those who will continue to push their personal agendas. To me, leadership is building consensus on our fractious city council.  Idealogues moralizing from the dais is just more of the same BS that's crippled our state and national government.  Whatever the result of Measure U, let's work to make that resolution as amenable as possible to the opposing side and move on.


  • Knowing how he [Ziesenhenne] feels might tell us more about how he follows the will of the people, anyway - if he states one position, and the other wins, and he followed what the voters asked for, that would say a lot.

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